Poll shows support for William to be next king

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More than half of the British people believe that Prince William should be the next king, in place of his father, an opinion poll claims today.

The Gallup poll, for the Daily Telegraph, says that while there remains overwhelming support for the monarchy, with only 11 per cent in favour of a republic, a large majority said the monarchy should change with the times. Fifty-one per cent think the throne should "skip a generation".

Yesterday, charities raised fears that they could be hit financially if members of the public simply diverted their donations to the fund set up in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Several charities spoke up as the Government announced that it would give an estimated pounds 1m VAT levied on copies of Elton John's "Candle in the Wind" tribute to the memorial fund.

The last time the Government took such action over a charity record was in 1985, when pounds 500,000 collected from the Band Aid disc was given to charities working in Ethiopia and Chad.

Action Research, a medical research charity for serious disabling diseases, was the first to plead for donations to the fund to be made in addition to existing charitable gifts.

Anne Luther, its director-general, said it was clear that some who had previously pledged their support to Action Research wanted to redirect their funds to be associated with a suitable memorial to the work which Diana had accomplished.

But she added: "I cannot believe that it would have been Diana's wish that the charities she espoused should benefit at the expense of other good causes: rather that we should all be prepared to go the extra mile."

Action Research was not a charity with which Diana had been associated, but its work "underpins much of what the Princess chose to face so compassionately", Mrs Luther said. If several hundred people who traditionally gave pounds 10 or pounds 20 to the charity did not do so, that would be a problem.

Barry Brooking, chief executive of the Parkinson's Disease Society, which Diana supported until her divorce, said: "There is a finite amount of money which is available."

Derek Bodell, of the National Aids Trust, one of the six charities which the Princess continued to support, said: "It doesn't serve anyone's interests if so much money goes in one direction that other good causes and charitable activities, not linked with Princess Diana, suffer."

t A Sardinian tourist who stole a teddy bear left in tribute to the Princess was fined pounds 100 by Bow Street magistrates yesterdaywith an alternative sentence of seven days' jail if he does not pay. Fabio Piras, 20, apologised for his action.